NORBERT WIENER

November 26, 1894-March 18, 1964

BY IRVING EZRA SEGAl

NORBERT WIENER was one of the most original mathematicians and influential scientists of the twentieth century. He developed a new, purely mathematical theory, an integral calculus for functions of infinitely many variables known as functional integration. It has been of great importance for probability and theoretical physics. Wiener made huge strides in the harmonic analysis of functions of real and complex variables. In a unified way, this resolved old problems, produced new challenges, and provided a prototype for key aspects of harmonic analysis on topological groups. In part concurrently, he developed applications of his mathematical ideas in engineering, biology, and other fields. In later life he developed a synthesis of such applications with diverse ideas represented by central parts of the work done in the twenties and thirties by Vannevar Bush, Walter B. Cannon, Alan Turing, and others.

This synthesis, which he called ''cybernetics," has since been a productive unifying philosophy in science and engineering. In the United States, it primarily epitomized his earlier contributions to communication engineering; in Britain, it had a notable impact on neurophysiology, and its delayed, but eventually enthusiastic, acceptance in the Soviet Union stimulated important mathematical developments



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